Take-out Fake-out

Take-out Fake-out: PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef

by Shawnda on May 10, 2009

in Beef,Take-out Fake-out

Mongolian Beef

There are just some dishes I don’t think about making at home because there are plenty of times when going out is just plain worth it – especially considering someone else gets to do the dishes! Like sushi. While we do make sushi at home occasionally, I like that at a restaurant I can order a piece of this and a piece of that to try something new. If I don’t like it, it’s just one piece. Variety like that at home is hard to manage (for me, anyway).

Then there are times when my husband is scooping up a forkful of something and he’ll pause, look at me across the table, and say, “You know, we could totally make this at home.” Usually, he’s right. And I’d probably do it way more often if someone could hook me up with their clean-the-kitchen fairy. I can pay in chocolate cake or bottles of Port… take your pick!

This was good. This was really good. Very restaurant-esque, not terrible for you, cooked very quickly, and everyone cleaned their plates. It’s already on the menu again for next week!

Mongolian Beef

A DIY version of PF Chang's Mongolian Beef.


  • 1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup of low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (measured, not packed)
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 large green onion, sliced thinly


  1. Pat steak slices dry and add to a bowl with corn starch. Toss to ensure all pieces are just coated. Shake off excess corn starch using a strainer.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 tsp oil in a large wok or non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, stir until fragrant.
  3. Add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and pepper flakes.
  4. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.
  5. Turn the heat to high and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides.
  6. Pour the sauce back into the wok and cook until the sauce reaches desired consistency.
  7. Add the green onions (a pinch reserved for garnish), stir, and remove from heat. Plate, top with remaining onions, and serve.


Yields: 2-4 servings

Adapted from PF Chang's and Pink Bites

Estimated time: 20 minutes




The potsticker is one of my husband’s favorite Asian dishes. There is only one restaurant on our regularly-considered list of dining establishments that serves potstickers – and unfortunately, since the Texas heat doesn’t exactly provide the ideal climate for the Money Tree to grow wild, it’s a bit pricey and hard to justify for a regular night out. No matter, it always comes up anyway: “You know, we could go to Kirin and get potstickers.” And then I shudder at the thought of $50 potstickers.

I recently started working on creating a couple of menus to help reduce our dining-out expenses and better control how much fat we consume when eating out. I started a “Take-out Fake-out” menu of our favorite Asian dishes to expand my nearly non-existent experience with Asian cuisines and a “Restaurant Redo” menu to copy-cat some of our favorite restaurant offerings. Both are in the very early stages of development but the goal is to add one new item to the menu each week.

In the spirit of Take-out Fake-out, I decided to throw in the towel and make potstickers myself. How hard could it be if I psyched myself up to think of ‘em as an Asian-filled ravioli? I perused a cooking forum (thanks, Klady) and a couple of recipe sites (Epicurios really does rock) and found out what the “green stuff” in the pork filling was and bought my first-ever head of Napa Cabbage.

Orange Sesame Dipping Sauce

The potstickers were very nicely flavored – perhaps a little too golden brown, but they tasted really similar to the ones we get when we eat at Kirin. Now when my husband craves potstickers, we can whip them up ourselves. The best part – it won’t cost an arm, a leg, and a kidney to enjoy!

1/2 lb ground pork
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup chives
2/3 cup green onions
1 cup Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Wonton wrappers (about 30)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 recipe Orange Sesame dipping sauce, for serving (follows)

Cook the ground pork over medium heat until done*. Add the remaining ingredients (through garlic) and cook until the greens are wilted nicely. Let mixture cool just a bit and add it to the bowl of a food processor. Process the filling until it reaches the desired consistency.

Lay a wrapper on a flat, dry surface put a Tbsp of mixture in in the middle. Using your fingers or a pastry brush (save the dirty-dish sink space – use your fingers), wet the wonton wrapper surrounding the filling and fold the dumpling, pressing the seams together: bring two opposite corners to the center, bring the remaining corners to the center one at a time and press tightly.

Add oil to a skillet (a clean skillet) and add dumplings. Add 1/3 cup water to the pan and cover tightly. Remove from heat when the dumplings are golden brown on one side (about 4 minutes).

* I fear raw pork so I pre-cooked the filling. You can prepare the potstickers “raw” just be sure to adjust the cooking time.

Orange Sesame dipping sauce (measurements are approximate)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp lite soy sauce
2 Tbsp chives
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp orange juice

Whisk together all ingredients, adjust seasoning to taste.



California Rolls

Sometimes the best way to get into the water is to accept that it’s going to be cold and dive right in. Other times call for the more gradual dip-your-toes-in-first method. The latter is how I see my husbands experience with sushi (I fall somewhere in between). He’s not a big fan of the raw fish concept but I have the simplicity of the weird-free California rolls to thank for our regular “sushi nights” now.

My husband isn’t the only one in the house with boundary issues when it comes to sushi – I have a few of my own: No visible tentacles, no creatures that previously had tentacles, and no eel. I just haven’t developed those tastes yet or the bravado to acquire them. What I do love is a cold slab of tuna, salmon, or red snapper. Wanna deep fry a Phoenix roll in tempura for me? Sure – go ahead!
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Take-out Fake-out: Pork Fried Rice

by Shawnda on April 22, 2007

in Take-out Fake-out

Pork fried rice

Eating out has its benefits: someone else gets to take out the garbage and do the dishes.

Eating out has its downfalls: it’s gets pricey and there is no way to control how much fat goes into the dish.

A recent study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest called to attention just how unhealthy eating in a Chinese restaurant can be – even the veggies, which seem like a healthy choice, pack a below-the-belt punch of calories and sodium.

I’ve started putting together a take-out fake-out menu so when we get the urge for restaurant food, we can at least have the option to eat those same items at home. The menu includes fried rice, potstickers, and sushi thus far. Chicken Lo Mein and wonton soup will follow soon.
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